One of two French authors accused of demanding up to 3 million euros from Morocco’s king in exchange for not publishing a compromising new book about him says it was, in fact, the North African state that proposed the deal as hush money.
Eric Laurent doesn’t deny going along with what he calls a “private transaction”.
“It is my book and it’s my business,” he told French radio on Monday.
“I can do whatever I want with it. It is not public property. The other side transformed a private transaction into what they call blackmail or attempted blackmail by me, but this is absurd.”
King Mohammed’s lawyer, Eric Dupont-Moretti, takes a different view – putting it this way.
“You come to threaten me on a Sunday. You say you’ll come round to my house on Tuesday. On Monday, I ask the police to intervene. Is this a trap?”
Whatever the truth, reports say the pair’s publishing house won’t now publish the book as its relationship of trust with the journalists, Eric Laurent and Catherine Graciet, has been broken.
Both Laurent and Graciet have been charged, in France, with blackmail and extortion.